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Category Archives: Featured Guest blogs

Chuck Wendig: How To Finish That Effin’ Book You Monster

Writer/Aspiring Writer Friends,

Great advice from Chuck Wendig on how to finish that book already! Even the most seasoned writers have days when they’d rather do the laundry than get the writing done. Plese beware, Wendig is very candid, sparing no ears the sting of his profanity laced blogs, but his commentary is always spot on regardless of his delivery:

That book you’re writing is mewling again in the dark. It’s a half-formed thing — all unspooled sinew and vein, its mushy head rising up out of the mess of its incomplete body, groaning and gabbling about this life of misery it leads. Its life is shit because you haven’t finished it. It’s flumping along on stump legs, pawing its way through your hard drive, bleating for attention. It needs words. It needs plots. It needs resolution.

YOU MONSTER.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.

It’s okay. I’m here. I can help you.

CLICK THIS BUTTON TO GIVE ME $199.99 IN 78 EASY HOURLY INSTALLMENTS AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW bleah okay fine I won’t charge you any money. I’ll do this for free. Because I like you. And because I feel bad for the ill-formed thing you call a ‘novel.’ And because I hope secretly you will respect my advice enough to one day form a cult of personality around me.

You wanna finish that book?

Here’s how you finish that book.

1. Stop complaining about it. I know, it’s hard. It’s easier to talk about writing than it is to actually write, isn’t it? And it’s extra-special-super-saucy-easy to get online and join with others who have joined the Aren’t Finishing Shit club, and it feels somehow productive to talk about not being productive. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I’ve flopped about publicly and engaged in the illusion of productivity. But you gotta stop. I’m not saying you can’t vent about it — just vent after you’ve BARFED WORDS UP ONTO A PAGE.

2. Accept your limitations. You are not a perfect person. You are given over to frailties and foibles. Others have different frailties and foibles. Yours are yours, and others may possess privilege that you do not. (Also true: you may possess privilege that others do not.) That changes no part of the reality of how this happens: writing requires writing. It demands work. A little here, a lot there, whatever you can accomplish within your given time and considering your limitations. You can do it. Gotcher hands chopped off? Type with your nose.

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Liberals and the Discrimination Ruse

Liberals and the “Discrimination” Ruse.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Featured Guest blogs

 

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Remembering Nelson Mandela; The American Political Right’s Reaction

Nelson MandelaFriends,

I can’t tell you how very disgusted I have been with the sheer amount of vitriol directed towards former president of South Africa & freedom fighter Nelson Mandela by the American political right, immediately following his death. Let me say that I have no problem with objective criticism of his political philosophy at one time in his life & I find some things he advocated fallacious or morally wrong as well, but Nelson Mandela was no “terrorist” nor was he an Idi Amin as some are attempting to portray him as. I want to share the comments & the sharing of Newt Gingrich’s very poignant blog from Steven (which is where I saw it first) of a very good friend & mentor of mine Steven Barnes, a New York Times bestselling writer, screenplay writer, life coach & I could go on. I also want to recognize those few on the right who have stood up to the criticism of Mandela as well – Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved & Newt Gingrich have all spoken out in reverence for him & expressed their condolences. Here is what Steven had to say & I concur:

“I find the venom against Mandela on the day of his passing to be indicative of a total emotional disconnect, an inability to extend humanity to others. When even Newt Gingrich agrees, you know there is a problem.”- Steven Barnes
###

“Yesterday I issued a heartfelt and personal statement about the passing of President Nelson Mandela. I said that his family and his country would be in my prayers and Callista’s prayers.

I was surprised by the hostility and vehemence of some of the people who reacted to me saying a kind word about a unique historic figure.

So let me say to those conservatives who don’t want to honor Nelson Mandela, what would you have done?

Mandela was faced with a vicious apartheid regime that eliminated all rights for blacks and gave them no hope for the future. This was a regime which used secret police, prisons and military force to crush all efforts at seeking freedom by blacks.

What would you have done faced with that crushing government?

What would you do here in America if you had that kind of oppression?

Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.

After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.

As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?

Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.

Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.

I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.

Finally, if you had been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would have emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter?
— Newt Gingrich

I salute, honor & revere the hero that Nelson Mandela was and my prayers & condolences go out to his family & the people of South Africa who are mourning him. I also salute the few conservatives who have the decency & courage to speak honestly about Nelson Mandela in spite of the vitriol & disrespect coming from their followers. Until next time…..Talitha McEachin

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Featured Guest blogs, In The News, Politics

 

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The Single Best Way to Sell a Lot of Books

The Single Best Way to Sell a Lot of Books.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Featured Guest blogs, Fictional Writing

 

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Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences

Friends,

Books (1)A wonderful, informative piece from Joe Fassler, a columnist for The Atlantic for writers (and readers) on first sentences:

Stephen King brings us two new novels in 2013 — one on shelves already, and the other forthcoming. In June, Joyland was published by Hard Case Crime, an imprint showcasing classic and contemporary crime writers in paperback editions dressed up like vintage pulps: Stylized covers feature ominous taglines, brooding private dicks, and draped-out femme fatales. Though Joyland’s story is haunted by a terrifying killer of young women, the book mostly chronicles the yearning rhythms of one adolescent summer — carny talk and plushie toys, boardwalks and broken hearts. In The New York Times, Walter Kirn aptly compared the book to a fair ride — it’s brief, thrilling, and sweetly quaint.

King’s second book, Doctor Sleep, which will be published in September by Scribner, is everything Joyland isn’t. On his website, the author calls it a “return to balls-to-the-wall, keep-the-lights-on horror.” This long-awaited sequel to 1977’s The Shining revisits traumatized child psychic Danny Torrance — he goes by Dan, now — all grown up and still struggling to understand his frightening gift. “It’s a good book, a scary book, but I wonder if some people won’t like it as much as the original,” King told me. That book’s pre-Kubrick readers are 35 years older now. “I can hear everyone saying, ‘That wasn’t so scary. The first onereally scared me,” he said. “Well, that’s because you read the first one when you were 13 fuckin’ years old, hiding under the covers with a flashlight!”

When I asked him to share a favorite passage for this series, King couldn’t choose between two favorites; both, we noticed, were first sentences. So, he analyzed both his choices as part of a broader discussion about opening lines — a topic not addressed at length in his memoir-as-craft-manual,On Writing. King paid tribute to Douglas Fairbairn and James M. Cain, looked back on favorite intros he’s written, and explained how he approaches a book’s first moments. Stephen King spoke to me by phone from his home in Maine.

When I asked him to share a favorite passage for this series, King couldn’t choose between two favorites; both, we noticed, were first sentences. So, he analyzed both his choices as part of a broader discussion about opening lines — a topic not addressed at length in his memoir-as-craft-manual,On Writing. King paid tribute to Douglas Fairbairn and James M. Cain, looked back on favorite intros he’s written, and explained how he approaches a book’s first moments. Stephen King spoke to me by phone from his home in Maine.

Stephen King: There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It’s tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don’t think conceptually while I work on a first draft — I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.

But there’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

How can a writer extend an appealing invitation — one that’s difficult, even, to refuse?

We’ve all heard the advice writing teachers give: Open a book in the middle of a dramatic or compelling situation, because right away you engage the reader’s interest. This is what we call a “hook,” and it’s true, to a point. This sentence from James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice certainly plunges you into a specific time and place, just as something is happening:

They threw me off the hay truck about noon.

Suddenly, you’re right inside the story — the speaker takes a lift on a hay truck and gets found out. But Cain pulls off so much more than a loaded setting — and the best writers do. This sentence tells you more than you think it tells you. Nobody’s riding on the hay truck because they bought a ticket. He’s a basically a drifter, someone on the outskirts, someone who’s going to steal and filch to get by. So you know a lot about him from the beginning, more than maybe registers in your conscious mind, and you start to get curious.

This opening accomplishes something else: It’s a quick introduction to the writer’s style, another thing good first sentences tend to do. In “They threw me off the hay truck about noon,” we can see right away that we’re not going to indulge in a lot of foofaraw. There’s not going to be much floridity in the language, no persiflage. The narrative vehicle is simple, lean (not to mention that the book you’re holding is just 128 pages long). What a beautiful thing — fast, clean, and deadly, like a bullet. We’re intrigued by the promise that we’re just going to zoom.

To continue reading please click HERE.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Featured Guest blogs

 

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Black Conservatives for Trayvon Martin Share Their Thoughts

Friends,

zimmerman martinLast year when I wrote about the ‪George Zimmerman‬ case for Yahoo (in three parts), I was definitely, initially more defensive of Zimmerman but urged that we all wait for the facts. Here are some facts gathered by ‪black conservatives‬ who side with the ‎Trayvon Martin‬ family/prosecution & do not believe Zimmerman’s self-defense claims. Interesting & admittedly, some of these are things that brought up questions in my mind & others I didn’t know, like the fact that there was no grass tall enough to hide Martin’s 5’11’ height (#19 on this list). Personally, I think that many on the left & right have had a knee-jerk reaction, to automatically oppose the other due to political tribalism. The fact that ‪Al Sharpton‬ was involved in this case (he was asked to) I think also caused some to oppose him because they don’t like him or his involvement in prior cases. I don’t have enough fingers & toes to count the number of times a person (usually on the right) has brought up the Tawana Brawley case & Al Sharpton’s involvement in it, when discussing this case.  In philosophy, we call that a genetic fallacy, which is rejecting an idea because of the source rather than it’s merits. For some, since Al Sharpton is involved & believes Zimmerman is guilty, Zimmerman must therefore, be innocent of murder & his claims of self-defense more plausible. Do you see how fallacious that is? Sharpton being wrong about Tawana Brawley doesn’t mean he’s wrong about George Zimmerman, or that Zimmerman acted in self-defense as he claims.

Likewise, some on the left will not even consider the possibility that Zimmerman may have shot in self-defense & won’t view this in any other way other than through their own political or racial prism. If the right-wing mostly supports Zimmerman, he must be guilty. I have examined both sides & can’t make up my mind completely, but I don’t believe Zimmerman’s version of events entirely, and I won’t pretend to because that’s the consensus on my political “side”. Equally, I won’t condemn him just because I’m black or the fact that most on the left support him either. I’ll wait for the verdict & accept it. We must respect the rule of law, not the media or the mob – on either side. For my liberal friends who think all black conservatives defend Zimmerman, you’re wrong. In the end, only the thoughts of the six, female jurors matter.

Here is the list compiled by Black Conservatives for Trayvon as it was posted, but I’ll add that #23 is not sharpton and martin familyentirely accurate because there is video evidence that Trayvon Martin was wearing his hoodie, at least part of the time he was in the store. That doesn’t prove any criminality on his part though. It was raining outside and perhaps he chose not to take it off because he wasn’t going to be in there for very long. In any case, it’s not illegal to wear a hoodie and I wear them all the time (and I’m a black American), particularly in the winter while jogging, am I a criminal or thug too? If anyone is wondering why I am sharing this, it’s simple – for balance. I’ve used plenty of keystrokes already in Zimmerman’s defense & I won’t censor my uncertainty regarding his claims. It’s called objectivity:

Trayvon Martin Killing: Fact Sheet

***GET THE FACTS***

This tragedy and subsequent trial has brought race relations in America to a fever pitch. Most people are responding according to their cultural and racial biases and NOT the facts of the case. The following, documented facts cannot be disputed. If you are interested in truth and justice, review the following facts and see if they do not reshape some of your opinions. No matter what your race or political affiliation, the following facts cannot be disputed:

1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about.” Walking around in the neighborhood is not a crime nor suspicious for a 17 yr old teenager… at 7:30pm.

Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away”
(Orlando Sentinel)

2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher:

Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”
Zimmerman: “Yeah”
Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”
(Orlando Sentinel)

3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming ”At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin.”
(Sun Sentinel)

4. Zimmerman was carrying a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.
(ABC News)

5. Martin weighed 153 pounds at the time of death. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds and was 204 pounds at the time of shooting.
(Orlando Sentinel)

6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” He was not a ‘bad’ or ‘troubled’ student. He got a mandatory suspension from school because he had an empty bag w/ marijuana residue.
(Orlando Sentinel)

7. Martin had no criminal record.
(New York Times)

8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.” Additionally, he had been previously entered into an anger management program for domestic violence assault on a girlfriend.
(VIDEO: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/george-zimmerman-was-arrested-before-trayvon-martin-case-previously-accused-of-domestic-violence)

9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times between Jan. 1, 2011 and the shooting on February 25th, 2012.
(Miami Herald)

10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.”
(Miami Herald)

11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics”
(Huffington Post)

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.”
(ABC News)

13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.”
(Miami Herald)

14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man.
(New York Times)

15. The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is “standard procedure in most homicide investigations.”
9ABC News0

16. George Zimmerman took Mixed Martial Arts classes for at least a year before the incident. A physician assistant who treated George Zimmerman’s injuries the day after he said he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense testified that she had treated Zimmerman before, and that he told her he’d had been involved with mixed martial arts several times a week.
(Central Florida News)

17. The detective originally on the case was stopped by the chief of police from filing charges and arresting Zimmerman for manslaughter. When he insisted on filing the charges, he was demoted from detective back to night beat officers.
(VIDEO: CNN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG3l8g2S5Kc)

18. Zimmerman claims to have been looking for an address in a gated neighborhood with ONLY 3 streets that he is the self proclaimed neighborhood watch captain of… and he has lived there for 4 years. Also, the street he claimed to be looking for an address from had obvious street numbers on it.
(Trial Evidence)

19. His original claim was that he was sucker punched after Martin jumped from the bushes and attacked him. There are no bushes tall enough to hide his 5′ 11” body in the neighborhood anywhere near the incident.
(CNN)

20. The gun George Zimmerman used was designed to be loaded and ready to shoot. It was also concealed in a holster behind his back. His gun had to have been loaded when he pulled it out to shoot Martin, which is inconsistent with his assertion that he was afraid of the unarmed teenager.
(VIDEO: CNN http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/03/george-zimmermans-gun/)

21. The actual shooting took place +40 feet away from where Zimmerman claimed he was attacked and immediately knocked down and claims he was unable to flee from. They had to have scuffled and rolled on the ground in front of 2 different residences (leaving no dna or forensic evidence behind) before being shot.
(Trial Evidence)

22. In addition to the 3 different accounts from Zimmerman not adding up, Zimmerman claims that he was screaming for help as he reached for his gun and shot the boy. In the phone recording, the screaming for help immediately stopped once the gun was fired. He says that the threat was eliminated and therefore he didn’t need to scream anymore. But, he was adamant that he didn’t know that he shot him or killed him when interviewed by the police.
(Trial Evidence)

23. Though dark, it was 7:30pm on a Sunday evening. He was walking, not running, in a neighborhood that he was SUPPOSED to be in as he was heading back home to take the candy back to his 12 yr old (soon to be) step brother. According to the video in the store, he didn’t have his hoodie on. That didn’t take place until it started raining.
(Trial Evidence)

24. Zimmerman’s original attorney’s decided NOT to represent him once they spoke to him and found out the facts of the case. This was dismissed in the media as them being ‘opportunist’ and only wanting publicity.

Click HERE to visit “Black Conservatives for Trayvon”

Everyone have a blessed & productive day! Until next time…

 
 

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Danger Word moves fundraising to Indiegogo

Danger Word moves fundraising to Indiegogo.

 
 

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